Tie Dye Flora Maxi Hack

So back in February I was getting all excited about finding my new style and was making plans for some Spring Sewing. I did pretty well and managed to crank out two out of the four items that I made plans for (check them out here and here). Then my parents threw a spanner in the works by inviting Luke and I out to Spain with them for a week in May. With a lovely hot holiday to look forward to I suddenly got the urge to skip straight to Summer Sewing and since my new body (post baby) is definitely not ready for short skirts and shorts I thought the best route would be maxi dresses.

I had spotted the most gorgeous navy blue and white tie dye fabric on the Ditto Instagram feed and instantly had to have it (following fabric shops on Instagram is not good for your wallet - very good for their marketing! lol). I have two approaches to owning fabric...I either purchase it, make multiple plans for it but then squirrel it away, occasionally taking it out to swoon over and stroke lovingly, but end up too scared to cut into it, or I get it back to my house, wash it and getting cutting and sewing as soon as possible! The former is the norm, but the latter was exactly what happened with this fabric. I had quite a specific plan for this fabric as soon as I saw it online, but when it arrived it turned out to be a bit heavier than I imagined and I was worried my grand plan wouldn't work as well as I thought. But I decided to go ahead with it anyway. Its a cotton linen mix, and I suppose the linen gives it a heavier drape, but the cotton and the print mean that it doesn't crease as much as 100% linen (or it doesn't show) which is great.

The plan was a maxi dress with a gathered flounce on the hem. I tried searching for a suitable pattern, but couldn't track one down that I was completely enamoured with, so decided to cobble my own together instead! I had always wanted to make a dress using the By Hand London Flora bodice (variation 2) because I thought the straight, high neckline would really suit me, so I thought this might be the perfect opportunity.

Because my time is very limited these days and I just don't have the energy to make toiles/muslins to test patterns I just tissue fitted the Flora bodice and decided it would be a decent enough fit to just go for it with the tie dye fabric. I cut a straight size UK16, but added an extra inch or so to the length, to lower the waistline. Ironically I subsequently ended up taking out about an inch there in the final fitting, so I should have just left it alone! It was a great fit around my bust at the front, but I did have to play with the zip placement a bit. I thought I had a lot more extra fabric in the back than I really did and my first time inserting the zip made the bodice too tight. I REALLY didn't want to unpick and re-sew but since I couldn't really breathe I knew it would be foolish to leave it. For this project I finally got around to using my new invisible zip foot - oh my goodness, they are brilliant! Definitely the best invisible zip I have ever sewn, and so easy to use. I highly recommend getting one if you don't already own one.

I didn't want a lot of gathers at the waist (I've mentioned before how I don't think that is a flattering shape for me) so the skirt is made as a sort of A-line, with the waist being just slightly wider than my actual waist measurement and then widening out to slightly less than the width of the fabric. I only had two meters of this fabric so I had to be a bit frugal with my cutting and could only use the width of my fabric as the bottom flounce, which was made by cutting rectangles, gathering and attaching to the hem of the skirt (advanced pattern drafting right there! lol).

The bodice is lined with a lovely light weight white cotton from my stash (I bought about 5m one time specifically for lining summer clothes!) and the hem of the skirt is actually sewn with a blue ribbon, turned up and hemmed. I decided to hem it like that to reduce bulk as I think a double turned hem would have been to heavy.

So, what is my overall opinion of the finished dress? Actually, I'm not sure. I've included the photo above of me messing around with the scarf as a belt because I think perhaps a belt would divide up the dress nicely and be a little more flattering. Without one I feel it's a bit too much a sea of blue and actually a bit boring. The dress is really comfy to wear and I love that the fabric doesn't crease much, or show creases much. However, I feel that I may be chopping into this dress and maybe making the skirt a bit more pencil with a knee-length flounce instead of a maxi - what do you think? As I said, the fabric is quite heavy and I actually got a bit hot wearing it (even though the weather is Spain was abysmal while I was there), so shortening the skirt might help.

I made one more dress for my holiday but I didn't get any shots while I was away so need to take a few photos of it for the blog - hopefully soon however I'm back to work next week. I can't believe that my year-long maternity leave is nearly over. It will be heartbreaking to leave my little Luke for the day but I have to admit there is a part of me looking forward to it - partly because I'm now scheming up lots of work appropriate sewing plans!

Chalkboard Roll-Up Mat Tutorial

Welcome to Part 2 of my tutorials using chalkboard fabric, in collaboration with Elephant In My Handbag. If you missed Part 1, where I share how to make very simple chalkboard embroidery hoop decor, you can check that out here.

Today I'm sharing how to make a really fun chalkboard roll-up mat. This mat is great to take with you when you are out and about with your kids and find you need an activity to entertain or distract them with, for example at a cafe or restaurant. It requires a bit of sewing, but it's really easy to make, so let's get started!


  • Approx 30cm x 42cm chalkboard fabric
  • A fat quarter of accent fabric (any stable cotton would be fine)
  • Approx 2.5m 18mm bias binding
  • Quilting clips
  • Pack of chalk
  • Small chalk eraser/sponge
Tips on working with chalkboard fabric:
- Use a heavy duty sewing machine needle, such as a Jeans needle
- Chalkboard fabric can be ironed, but only on the reverse of the fabric and at a low heat. Ironing makes the fabric very soft and pliable (and it will ripple a bit), but it will stiffen up again once it cools
- Don't use pins as they will leave holes in your fabric. Instead I found quilting clips the most useful. 


You can make your mat any size you like, but I went for roughly A3 size. For this, cut the following pieces:
  • Chalkboard fabric: 30cm x 42cm rectangle 
  • Accent/backing fabric: 30cm x 42cm rectangle
  • Accent/pocket Fabric: two 20cm x 20cm squares
To create the rounded edges of the mat, draw around a glass, or other circular object, at each corner of the chalkboard and backing fabric pieces. Cut.
The larger the curve, the easier it will be to sew on the binding!


The size of the pocket will depend on the dimensions of your packet of chalk and eraser.
Tip: If you can't find a small eraser, do what I did and make one from a sponge! Just cut the sponge down to the size you want.
  • Place the two pocket squares right sides together and sew around three edges with a 1.5cm seam
  • Clip corners and turn fabric right side out. Press.
  • Keeping the open edge on your right (this will be the edge sewn into the binding of the mat) fold the pocket piece in half by bringing the bottom up to the top. Then fold the upper layer back down by 2cm. Press. 
  • Edge stitch the left hand side of the pocket piece shut
  • Sew down the middle of your piece, creating two pockets


  • Cut a 90cm length of bias binding
  • Fold in the ends and sew down
  • Fold the length in half and sew down open side


  • Place the chalkboard fabric and the backing fabric pieces wrong sides together. 
  • Position pocket piece in the middle of the right hand side of the mat, on the chalkboard side and clamp in place.
  • Fold the tie piece in half and position in the middle of the other edge of the mat, on the backing side. Line up the fold of the tie with the edge of the mat, the loose ends running across the mat. Clamp in place.
  • Baste around the edge of the mat, staying as close to the edge as you can and making sure to secure both the pocket piece and tie. Be very careful sewing over the tie - I suggest sewing by hand turning the sewing machine wheel very slowly, otherwise the needle could break!
  • Now bind the entire edge of the mat with the bias binding. There are several methods for this - I sewed the binding, right sides together with the backing fabric, flipped in over and topstitched it on the chalkboard side. But you are welcome to sew it on in one go, just make sure you catch the underside! Again - be very careful sewing over the tie!!!


Well that's it! I really love this project, it was so quick and easy to make - and how cute is that Harbour fabric that I used?!! My little man is a bit too little to use this mat at the moment, but I will definitely be bringing it out when he is old enough. If you make one I would love to see your version in action!

I will hopefully be back next week with a sewn garment (I just need to photograph it - and all sewing bloggers will know, that can take far longer than the actual sewing!). After I announced my Spring Sewing Plans, my parents invited me out to Spain with them, so a couple of maxi dresses got bumped up the queue! 

House Tour and Inspiration: The Dining Room

I have fallen slightly behind with my House Tour, so let's get back on track and let me share with you my Dining Room before shots and some inspiration for what I'm hoping to achieve.

If you missed the previous posts, you can find them below:
- The Nursery
- The Living Room

The previous owners of our house recently added an extension to the back, creating a large, sort of L-shaped space with kitchen and living space. The photo above shows what was probably the original kitchen, the door leads out into the hall, towards the front door.

This shot is standing in that space and looking towards the new kitchen extension. You can see from this photo that the space can be quite dark.

Finally this is the wall opposite the door into the hall.

Initially I had planned for this space to be more of a cosy nook to curl up and watch TV or read a book (I obviously had those dreams before I realised that my curling up with a book days were over once Luke came along!), while the area beside the open plan kitchen would be our dining area, as I thought it would be lovely to be able to cook while others sat and chatted around the table. We had this layout for a while, but I wasn't totally convinced and one day, while my husband was out at work, I rearranged the furniture and instantly preferred the dining table in this space.

As you can see from the before photos, the dining/kitchen area has the same lovely wooden floors as the living room, so thankfully we don't need to do anything to them. In terms of the walls, although I like the soft green, our previous kitchen was a similar colour and I really wanted to try something different this time. I am thinking a very light grey colour, to tie into the New England vibe I'm very loosely striving for.

All images and their sources can be found on my Pinterest Beach House Dining Board.

Our house has very limited storage so I knew that creating as much storage space as possible was very important. I have always lovely the look of a Welsh Dresser, but to be honest, they don't hold as much space as I would like/need so when I came across the above image of the Liatorp bookcases from Ikea I knew this would be ideal. I was beyond delighted when I realised that the large wall opposite the door into the hall was the perfect length and depth for these! I say depth because we have a supporting pillar which juts out there and I wanted to make sure whatever I placed on this wall would be flush with the pillar.

In terms of lighting, I am having a major obsession with pendant lighting above dining tables at the moment. I feel they just create such a lovely cosy glow and add interest and hight to the area. I particularly love fishermen lanterns, you know, 'coz of my whole love for everything beachy and nautical! So hopefully my husband can sort that out for us.

Our old dining table and chairs are perfect for the look I'm after, so thankfully no money needed in that area.

As I mentioned above, the added extension has actually left the dining room area quite dark. Because of this I think I will need to add some sort of lighting into the Liatorp bookcases. I also think that a large mirror on the back wall would reflect the windows at the back of the house and hopefully bring some natural light into the area. I had thought that a mirror that looked like a window would be pretty amazing looking (see the photo above right), but I did a bit of research and either they were significantly out of my budget, or were just the wrong style for our house. So for now I'm just going to use a mirror that we previously had in the bedroom of our old house.

Finally, the wall with the radiator on it. I feel that this space is sort of a wasted area, because of the radiator. Ideally I would have a pretty sideboard there, but since I can't I thought I could box in the radiator, creating a sort of faux sideboard. I also really love the display of prints on the above right photo so I may try and recreate something similar.

Next on my House Tour I'll talk about our bedroom plans. Our shutters are arriving this Thursday so I am really excited to finally get something up on our windows - we have had the whole front of our house 'exposed' to the world since we moved in last July!!! I just know they are going to make such a huge difference to the overall look and feel of the house!

And speaking of Thursday, my second Chalkboard Fabric tutorial will be up then, so I hope you come back and check it out! If you missed it, the first one can be found here.

Embroidery Hoop Chalkboard Tutorial

Time for another Elephant In My Handbag tutorial. In fact, we have two EIMH tutorials for you this month, both using the most amazing fabric which up until a couple of months ago, I didn't know existed - Chalkboard fabric! That's right, it's fabric that has a special black coating on it that acts like chalkboard! It really is so amazing, and very easy to work with and even sew with.

For today's tutorial I have made the cutest sewing-themed decor, that would look really great on your sewing room walls (if you are lucky enough to have your own sewing room!), or would also be adorable in a kids room. Embroidery hoop chalkboards!

Now, I have taken step-by-step photos, but really, this is the easiest make in the whole world, and only takes a couple of minutes, so an instant gratification project, and I know we all love them!


  • Wooden embroidery hoops in various sizes. I have used 6", 7" and 8"
  • Approximately 25cm/10" strip of chalkboard fabric - but it depends on what size of hoops you go for, just make sure you have about an inch/2.5cm more fabric than the size of your largest hoop
  • Scissors 
  • Chalk!


Lay your embroidery hoops on top of your fabric and cut around them, leaving abut 1cm/half an inch extra around the hoop.


Open your embroidery hoop as much as you can and mount your fabric. When tightening the hoop up again, keep the fabric as taut as possible, especially in the area where the screw is, as it has a tendency to wrinkle here.
Once the hoop is as tight as you can make it (you won't be able to fully close your hoop due to the thickness of the chalkboard fabric), trim the fabric at the back as close as you can to the frame. You could also use a craft knife to help you shave the fabric as close to the hoop as possible, but please be careful!


Use the little gap left at the top of the hoops to hang your work and then get cracking with your chalk! You can just erase your chalk with a normal chalkboard eraser, but I find it works better if you use something wet (even a wet wipe is good), as it leaves your chalkboard fabric perfectly clean for your next scribble.

And that is you done! Isn't that the easiest project in the world? Sometimes the simplest things are the most satisfying. I really love these little hoops hanging in my sewing room, they just add such a cute whimsical charm.

I'll be back with another tutorial using chalkboard fabric in a couple of weeks - one that is a little bit more involved and requires firing up the sewing machine, but I promise you, you are going to love it!

My Number 1 Sewing Tip

On my 29th birthday, back in 2009, I was given my very own sewing machine, and a passion was born. Since then I have been sewing, on and off, pretty much every week and, although I wouldn't call myself an expert and I have an awful lot more to learn, I have certainly picked up a few hints and tips over the past 7 years. But there is one tip above others that I would pass on to anyone who was thinking about starting sewing that I wish I had know when I started, and it's a very simple tip:

Use the best quality tools you can afford

Yep, that's it! But let's look at this a little more closely. Obviously if you are only starting out, you may not want to commit to all top end tools, just in case sewing turns out to not be for you (imagine!). So I think it is only prudent to perhaps buy the best you can afford, or feel happy spending money on, and then slowly over time replace and upgrade your various tools, which is how I have been approaching it. But which 'tools' are worth spending the money on?

Fabric Scissors or Shears
Oh my goodness, what a difference decent fabric scissors make! My first pair were a £5 pair from Ikea, and for a while they did the job. But very quickly they became blunt and I was left hacking my way through my fabric. I decided to upgrade to a pair of Fiscars Dressmaking Scissors, which set me back about £20. Wow - it was like a whole new world was opened up to me. These scissors glided through all different types of fabric with ease and I no longer struggled getting straight lines cut. I'm quite sure these shears will last me a lifetime and I will be happy, but I do have to admit that I have had my eyes on both the gorgeous red handled 10" shears from Merchant and Mills, and also the turquoise handled 8" shears from Ernest Wright and Son. At £53 and £40 respectively, they are quite a considered purchase, but I have only heard amazing things about them...and I have been dropping many unsubtle hints to my husband! What type of shears do you own and what do you think of them?

When I first started out sewing I wanted ALL THE THINGS and I wanted a big stash of all different bits and bobs to be able to 'shop' from whenever the inspiration for a new project hit me, rather than having to wait until I had time to go to a fabric shop and pick up everything I needed then. So my solution to this was to bulk buy thread in a multitude of colours. I found a bundle of about 20 spools on Ebay for very little (I can't remember exactly) and decided that would be perfect. I use this thread for many of my first projects and it worked ok. But as soon as I used a spool of 'decent' thread in my machine, I realised that my machine actually ran so much more smoothly, I had less thread 'nest' disasters (you know what I mean right?!) and hand sewing was far less stressful. It was a revelation, to say the least!

Sewing Machine Feet
Up until very recently I had always just used the feet that came with my sewing machine to tackle all my jobs - and that was primarily my regular foot and a regular zip foot. About a year ago I decided to invest (I say invest, but they aren't that expensive really!) in a walking foot as I was going to be doing some machine quilting. Since then I have rarely put my regular foot back on my machine as the walking foot is not only helpful with quilting, it is also just brilliant for assisting feeding all fabric through my machine. And my most recent 'upgrade' was an invisible zip foot - oh my goodness, what an eye opener! I have always just sewn my invisible zips with my regular zip foot and a lot of heat from the iron. I did a decent job, but it was always a bit of an effort. I have just used the invisible zip foot for the first time and it is brilliant! Really worth buying one if you haven't yet!

I bet you weren't expecting me to talk about something as basic as pins - surely they are all the same right? Well that's what I thought and for the first 5 or so years of sewing I was struggling (without realising it) with pinning my fabric with the cheap pins I owned. Turns out if you spend just a little bit more on your pins, you get far superior, sharper pins that glide through your fabric with ease. Basic pins usually have plastic heads, but if you spend a little bit more you can get glass headed pins and then you don't have to worry about your pins accidentally melting onto your fabric when you iron over them (I have done that far more times than I care to admit!). Another tip would be, if you can afford it, invest in pins specific for your fabric. You probably know that if you are going to sew with jersey you need to use a ball-point needle. Did you know that you can get ball point pins? I didn't, until I accidentally ordered some! Initially I was really annoyed that I had ordered the wrong type of pins, but I soon discovered how much better they actually are at pinning jersey fabric! Or, if you are going to be working with light, delicate fabric, such as silk, you could invest in a set of Entomology Pins from Merchant and Mills. I bought some to work on my Wedding reception dress and they are very sharp and were excellent for working with the silk and delicate lining I used.

This is a similar story to the thread - I decided to bulk buy cheap zips from Ebay so that I had a variety on hand. But more often than not, the zips would break, or just not open and close very easily. The bottom line is, if you are going to spend all that time and toil making a beautiful garment, do you really want to put a shoddy zip in it that might break? No. Just buy a decent zip as and when you need it!

Another Ikea story - when I started out sewing I discovered that buying fabric could be very pricey...and then I discovered the fabric section of Ikea and I thought I had found my solution. And I had - I made a number of lovely garments and project using Ikea fabric (this skirt, this bag, this skirt and this top). Ikea fabric is lovely and it makes great curtains, cushions and even bags, but it doesn't really lend itself very well to garment sewing. It creases terribly in the wash and its really hard work to iron - especially when you loathe ironing! This means I have only worn my Ikea fabric garments a couple of times each. I admit using this cheaper fabric was great for practising and honing my skills, but now that I am a bit more competent at sewing I am prepared to spend a bit more on my fabric and get a better quality garment at the end. And, although this is not always the case, quite often spending a bit more money on your fabric means you have a cloth that is actually easier to work with than a cheaper alternative - making your sewing experience more enjoyable. An extreme example of this is Liberty Tana Lawn - this stuff is pricey (£22 per meter!), but oh my goodness, it's like sewing through butter! There is certainly more affordable fabric out there that is still very good quality and easy to work with. In contrary to this, fabric is actually an area where you can save money if you are wanting to - how about up-cycling old clothes or sheets? That's a great way to get your hands on fabric of a decent quality for little money.

Sewing Machine
Now I was very lucky to be given my sewing machine for my birthday, as this is certainly a considered purchase! However, because of this, I can't really give you any nuggets of wisdom on sewing machines. What I can share is that starting off, you really just need a machine which can sew a straight line and a zigzag. My machine is probably just above the basic sewing machine and it has served me well over the years, however I do feel that I am now coming to the stage that I would really love to upgrade. But sewing machines are expensive, and I have a new house and childcare to pay for, so I think I will be waiting awhile for that upgrade!

So those are the main tools which I think you should spend what you can afford on. Of course there are many more tools out there that are brilliant and will make your sewing experience more enjoyable. Things that you don't necessarily need, but are great to have - for example a pressing ham (amazing for ironing curved seams), a dressmakers dummy or a tailors pressing clapper. But that's a whole other blog post!

What tools do you think are worth spending a bit more on? Have you had similar experiences as me with your tools? I'd love to hear your stories and any advice or tips you can share on the subject.

Spring 2016 Sewing: Wiksten Tova

So here is the second instalment to my Spring 2016 Sewing plan. I have finally sewn up a Wiksten Tova - it has only taken me about four years! I've had this pattern in my stash for a ridiculously long time, and have always meant to make a version, as I have loved all the other gorgeous renditions out there.

My version is made up in some lovely salt and pepper wool mix fabric, which I picked up in my epic haul from Fabworks (for only £7/m!). They call it a Grey Woolly Chambray Flannel and I could see it made up beautifully in a whole range of different ways (jackets, skirts, trousers), but I decided I would try it as a Tova. Perhaps my first attempt at making a Tova should have been with a light cotton or voile because there were a few elements of this make that were tricker to deal with due to the weight of the wool. For example, I omitted a few top stitching instructions because I didn't think my sewing machine would cope very well with the multiple layers of fabric, and I also hand stitched the cuffs and collar (the final stage of each, not the whole construction!), again due to the thickness of the fabric. I also just overlocked/serged the hem, turned it up once by 1 inch and stitched in place to reduce bulk.

Overall, it's quite an easy make. The corners of the front 'bib' were a little nerve wracking (am I catching too much fabric here....I found myself sewing while holding my breath - you do that too right?!) but thankfully it worked out OK first time and I didn't need to unpick anything. The sleeves also went in beautifully, so I was really pleased about that. The instructions have you overlock/serge all your edges, and I would have done that anyway because this fabric FRAYS! As in, just look at it lying on the table and it appears to fray in front of you without even being touched! So if you do want to get any of this, do keep that in mind and perhaps pick a pattern which doesn't require you to handle/manipulate the fabric too much. Once the edges were overlocked though, it made all the difference.

In terms of style and design I sewed up a straight size Large without making any alterations and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Some of these photos do make it look like it's tight across the bust, but it's not in 'real life'. I have seen a few versions where they have left off the mandarin collar, and I was tempted as I'm not a big fan of that style of collar, but decided for this first version I would just sew it as it is and then see. It turned out OK, but I may omit it next time. It also doesn't sit very well, which I think is partly down to the bulky fabric. I was also nervous about the sleeves gathered into the cuff. I'm just not a fan of 'puffy' sleeves so didn't know whether to alter them or not but, again, for this time, I left them. I actually don't mind them. But they will make wearing a layer over the top a bit awkward, so we shall see what that is like in slightly colder weather. Speaking of which, this top should be great for early Spring and most of Autumn due to the colour, the weight of the fabric and the wool content. I know I don't look particularly 'Spring-y' in this outfit, but guys, I live in Northern Ireland. Our Springs are generally rather cold and wet!

The opening is a bit low in the front, which is what I have read in other reviews. I don't mind it for my current lifestyle, but if I ever wear this to work (our dress code is slightly more casual than 'business attire' so I probably could) then I would definitely wear a camisole underneath. The finally issue I'm not 100% sold on is the hem. I'm perhaps being a little over analytical and over critical, but I think I would suit a curved hem more as this top is essentially cutting me straight across my hips, which I don't think it as flattering. But I can live with it.

In general I'm happy with my new top, but I don't love it as much as I love my Vogue V1247. I think I would benefit from having a little bit of shaping either in the sides or perhaps some darts on the back as it billows out a bit there. Maybe thats the choice of fabric? I think it would be a very nice and relaxed Summer top made up in a light voile, so I'm tempted with that. I also think it would be a lovely Autumnal dress made up in a corduroy or similar, worn with thick tights and the addition of pockets - it would definitely need pockets!!

Right, that's half of my Spring 2016 plans sewn up - go me! The next two are a little bit more complicated so will take a bit more time, and I've got a few things going on at home, so it will be a little bit longer before they appear on the blog. But hopefully I'll get them sewn up before I start daydreaming about my next project!

Spring 2016 Sewing: Vogue V1247

Today I'm really excited to be sharing the first make from my Spring 2016 Sewing Plans.

I decided to tackle the Vogue Patterns V1247 first because, for some reason, I was super excited about this one, plus I had a girls night out planned and I thought it would be the perfect excuse to wear this!

This was not an easy make. The fabric is a really slinky, slippy polyester that I picked up a good few years ago on sale from The Spinning Wheel in Belfast. I had originally planned to make a skirt with a faux wrap front on it from this fabric, but that never happened - and I am so glad it didn't because I just LOVE it made up as this top. Although you can't easily tell from these photos, the front is made up of 6 panels which all converge at a centre point. I knew that getting the point to line up perfectly would be especially difficult with a slinky fabric, so having a busy print would hide any potential mistakes. Two of the panels are also cut on the bias, so directional prints wouldn't work either (although, stripes might look cool?).

All that being said, I think I got that centre point pretty close to perfect. It is out slightly, but you really don't notice it. The pattern has you finish all seams with french seams, which would be a given for this fabric anyway, it practically frayed by just looking at it! But that did add quite a lot of bulk where seams converged, again making it difficult to control. Actually, the hardest part for me was the tiny rolled hem. ARGH - that was very frustrating. This thing got pinned within an inch of it's LIFE while I tried to control that hem! If I make any more of these tops (which I would like - I'm thinking a black crepe version would be a staple in my wardrobe) then I think I need to invest in a rolled hem foot.

I asked the lovely folk on my Instagram feed if they had any advice on sewing up this top and quite a few of you chimed in to say that it runs really big, and that I should cut 2 sizes smaller. I had read similar on a few reviews online so thought that might be the case. After comparing my measurements with the finished garments measurements I decided to only go one size smaller, mainly because i didn't want to risk it being tight on my hips (I am a pear shape). Thankfully I think it turned out a perfect size for me so I'm very happy.

I was also advised that it tends to run a bit short as well. I looked at a few other versions and decided that I would just go with the pattern as is, but now that it is made up I think having the front about an inch or so longer would be better - but I am still happy with the length this is. I actually turned up less fabric to make the hem than the pattern suggests, so I think it was meant to be even shorter! The final factor that I read from a few reviews, is that the neckline is low. And yep, that is very true. But I really like it. I personally suit a lower neckline (maybe I can get away with it because my chest is very small) and it isn't scandalously low so I'm happy. Plus I think this will be more of a dressy top, so I can get away with a lower neckline!

This is pretty different in style to anything else that I have made (you can check out my handmade wardrobe here), which if you have been reading my recent posts, is exactly what I was aiming for - and you know what, I really love it! Even before I started making this top I just had a feeling that it was going to be more 'me' than anything else I've made and it really is. So why do I love it? I think the navy and white colours fit in with my wardrobe really well. The loose fit means I can relax while the unusual construction lines add a bit more interest than a basic loose top. Up until now I have mainly focused on simple lines, letting the fabric do the talking, but sewing up this top has made me a lot more interested in looking for patterns that have that something that is just a bit different and some sort of quirky feature in the construction. After I finish my other Spring 2016 plans I think I'll maybe tackle another more unusual pattern. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm really liking the new Bowline Sweater from Papercut Patterns!

Spring 2016 Sewing Plans: Finding my style

Style Inspiration - Sources can be found on my New Style Pinterest board
I'm excited. I've been thinking a lot about what I've been chatting about in recent posts - my struggle with finding a style that suits me. And by that, I mean that it has to suit my body shape, obviously, but it also has to suit my lifestyle, and suit me aesthetically. Although fit and flare dresses and bright coloured mini skirts are fun to make, I just knew that I would not end up wearing them very much, day to day. And ultimately, I want to sew things that I'm going to wear on a regular basis. So I need to find things that I enjoy making, but fit into my existing ready-to-wear wardrobe (because I'm not going to start sewing jeans, coats and jumpers....for now anyway!) and I feel comfortable wearing - AND look good on me. Not asking for much, am I?!

I was feeling in a bit of slump about it up until recently because I guess I was giving myself a bit of a tough time with regards to self image. I'm sure a lot of us do that to ourselves every now and again. But, with Pinterest as my weapon, I think I have really started to get a better grasp of what I think is a lot more 'me'! And like I said, I'm excited!

As you can see from the inspirational photos I've pooled together above (you can see them all, plus more, on my New Style Pinterest board), I seem to be drawn towards black, white, navy and a little bit of colour. Gingham, stripes, geometric shapes. No florals! Thats quite a shock for me because I'm always drawn towards floral fabric. I feel like it's also got a little bit of biker or rock look going on too, with the leather and skinny jeans.

Speaking of skinny jeans, I live in skinny jeans. I mean, I. live. in. skinny. jeans. every. day. of. every. month. And there must be a reason for this. Stuck in a rut? Maybe. But it's a comfortable rut and I think it suits me, if I wear them the right way. And for me, they work best with a loose top. Dressed up or down, if the top is loose and the jeans are skinny, then I'm happy!

So once I had realised that, I knew that my initial plan of attack, would be to sew some tops. I brainstormed an awful lot of ideas and paired many different patterns with fabrics. But I know that I don't sew very fast and I don't have a lot of sewing time, so I had to be a little realistic and narrow my sewing plans down to something that I feel is a bit more achievable. In no particular order, here are my Spring 2016 sewing plans:

Cheyenne Tunic and blue gingham brushed cotton
First up, The Cheyenne Tunic, which I plan to make up in a blue gingham brushed cotton. As soon as I saw the Cheyenne, I knew it was the perfect shirt (or pop-over as I think the Americans call it) for my wardrobe. I love that it has a curved hem as it's a lot more flattering than one that just cuts straight across. And I'm excited (er - or nervous) about the placket. It will be a first for me so hopefully it's not too difficult.

Tova Tunic and charcoal grey chambray wool mix

Oh the Tova. I have had this pattern in my stash for I don't even know how long. I'm hoping to sew this up in a really lovely charcoal grey chambray wool mix fabric, but I'm still undecided about that. It's a heavier fabric than I thought it would be (I bought it online), but I do think that the Tova could cope with it. But I have a feeling that, although I'm sewing in in Spring, it will probably be an Autumn top (who am I kidding, it's freezing all year here in NI!!).

V1247 and navy snake skin poly
Vogue Patterns V1247. This has been around awhile now. Initially when I saw other bloggers sewing these up I didn't really get the appeal (I was still right in the middle of my floral dresses love-in), but while trawling Pinterest I saw a few of them and realised that it would actually fit into my life really well. That's when I discovered it was out of print. Damn. I was able to find a copy on Amazon (UK, but it was posted from USA!), and although it cost me £14, I decided to go for it. I've paired it with a snake skin print (yes) poly which has been in my stash for about 4 years. I thought the random print would work with the unusual seams and wouldn't cause too much of a headache with pattern matching!

Camas Blouse and black and white geometric viscose
And my final sewing plan for Spring is the Camas Blouse, sewn up in a monochrome geometric/ikat print viscose. This exact fabric was actually suggested in the Thread Theory Camas Blouse Sew Along and as soon as I saw it, and saw it was UK based, I knew I had to get some! It is totally something I would be drawn to in a clothes shop, so knew it would be perfect. I'm excited to get this one sewn up.

Actually, I'm excited to get all of these sewn up. I can honestly say that I can see all four of these fitting into my every day wardrobe (perhaps the V1247 won't be an every day item), and being worn in high rotation.

I've used the word 'excited' an awful lot in this post, but I can't help it. This is the most thrilled I've felt about sewing since....probably since I started 6 years ago!

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